More evidence today of the economic impact the Con-Dem coalition's cuts strategy is having. This time on the high street, with figures from the Office for National Statistics showing that sales fell by 0.5% in August, ending six months of growth. Year-on-year sales growth, which fell to 1.9% in August, was the worst since January, with non-food items badly hit.
John Lewis chairman Charlie Mayfield said: “For the remainder of this year and into 2011, we anticipate more challenging trading conditions, as higher taxes and public spending cuts begin to bite and household disposable incomes come under pressure.”
For low paid workers the squeeze on wages and services quickly impacts on the economy. This is highlighted in a new report by the Fair Pay Network that shows that more than one in five UK employees earns less than a "living wage". The report finds that since 1997, the poorest 10% of households have seen their weekly incomes fall by £9 a week. As real wages have fallen, the gap between what people earn and what they need has increasingly been filled by debt. The amount owed by UK households has tripled in the last decade. As a result, the economy suffers from significant levels of wage inequality and people having to work long hours to meet their basic needs, it warns.
Some food for thought for Scottish Liberal Democrat MPs as they gather for their Autumn conference this weekend perhaps?